Named for the man-made reservoir that it surrounds, Los Angeles’ Silverlake area is known as being one of the city’s most progressive and kooky neighborhoods. A hodgepodge of cultures, it offers sunny coexistence for hippies, artists, musicians, yogis, and dog-walkers, as well as hosts a bevy of Mexican, Thai, and Filipino restaurants. With forward-thinking individuals and a mix of cultures comes great cuisine, and as a result, Silverlake and neighboring Echo Park are excellent areas for noshing on enticing vegan food of all styles and calibers. We asked some local experts to share their favorite plant-based palate-pleasers, and here are the 11 dishes that shined the brightest.
1. Buffalo-style Cauliflower from Mohawk Bend
Who knew cauliflower could be so cool? Subdue the spice of this veg-friendly eatery’s buffalo sauce by slathering on the accompanying vegan blue cheese dressing, and wash it all down with a brewski from the seemingly endless beer list.
2. Mock Duck Curry from Bulan Thai
This all-veg Thai restaurant delivers Eastern heat with mouthwatering specials galore. Our pick: the Mock Duck Curry, wherein slightly sweet veggie duck complements coconut milk, tomatoes, bell peppers, chili, and, of course, curry spices.
3. Vegan Hawaiian Pizza from Cruzer
Priding itself on being LA’s only 100-percent vegan pizzeria, Cruzer doesn’t skimp in any department. Vegan cheese pizza isn’t too hard to come by, but vegan Hawaiian with meatless ham, pineapple, and Daiya cheese? We’re sold.
4. Caesar Salad from Cru
Missing the cool crunch of the quintessential Caesar? Cru’s got the best plant-based version in town, richened by cheesy sesame croutons, buttery avocado, and a cashew-coconut Caesar dressing that knocks the store-bought stuff out of the water.
5. Tempeh Reuben from Flore
Reubens are a popular choice for sandwich veganization, but Flore hits the nail on the head with its tempeh rendition. Bonus components include scrumptious sauerkraut, two kinds of cheese (cashew- and tofu-based), and thousand-island dressing. Don’t forget extra napkins.
6. Vegan Club Sandwich from Local
This airy lunch spot makes sure to cheers its veg patrons, and what better way to indulge us than with a triple-decker club sandwich piled high with tempeh, avocado, lettuce, tomato, and sunflower sprouts, and smeared with tofu-shallot mayo?
7. Acapulco Bowl from Tribal Café
This healthy take on a tostada resembles a deconstructed wonder burrito that you can chow down on with a fork. Fill your belly with brown cilantro rice, greens, black beans, lettuce, carrots, corn, guacamole, and salsa fresca, and add soy pepper-beef for a hearty extra. Be sure to ask for the vegan version so that your server knows to skip the sour cream.
8. Mac and Cheese Balls from Sage
Need we say more? Fried vegan macaroni-and-cheese slathered in even more cheese, and best when doused with a bit of hot sauce. Serve to omnis for maximum gloating as they scarf sans complaints.
9. Chocolate Salted Caramel Ice Cream from Kind Kreme
Sage’s sweet neighbor specializes in gourmet raw, vegan, organic frozen treats, and the almond milk-based Chocolate Salted Caramel Ice Cream is rich, creamy, and decadent enough to hurt so good. It’s dessert minus the dairy hangover.
10. Fresh Citrus Kale Salad from Elf Café
While myriad mouthwatering options await at this super vegan-friendly eatery, the Fresh Citrus Kale Salad is the perfect healthy, refreshing meal for a hot summer’s day. Avocado, hemp seeds, and oil-free tamari dressing make it as hearty as it is nourishing.
11. Tom Kha Vege from Vegan House
We love the flavors of Thailand, but it can be difficult to avoid sneaky animal ingredients like fish sauce and shrimp paste at many Thai restaurants. Thankfully, Vegan House offers totally plant-based versions of every dish imaginable, impressing us with this veggie-packed version of Tom Kha Gai soup.